Local police departments to get state grants to upgrade technology

May 16—Thirteen area police departments and sheriffs' offices will receive grants to upgrade technology.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a media release that $127 million will be given to police departments and sheriffs' offices outside of New York City for new technology and equipment to prevent and solve crimes and improve public safety. The governor secured additional funding in the state budget to fund applications made by 378 law enforcement agencies that responded to the state's application for funding last fall.

Police departments and sheriffs' offices will use the funding to purchase new technology and equipment to modernize their operations and more effectively solve and prevent crime, the release said. The grants will support a variety of equipment and technology, including but not limited to license plate readers, mobile and fixed camera systems, computer-aided dispatch systems, software, unmanned aerial vehicles, gunshot detection devices and smart equipment for patrol vehicles and police officers. More than half of the total funding will be used to support license plate readers (22%), body-worn and patrol vehicle equipment (20%), and public safety camera systems (17%).

Locally, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office will receive the most money — $364,051. "That's money local taxpayers won't have to fund in our budget," Sheriff Craig DuMond said. "Often we're critical of the governor and what is coming out of Albany, but we're grateful for this money." DuMond, who is president of the state Sheriffs Association, said he thanked Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado for the funding when he attended the State Police graduation ceremony in Albany Wednesday.

DuMond said the office will use the money to purchase new license plate readers, a TruNarc handheld narcotics analyzer, so deputies can test suspected drugs in the field instead of sending them off to be tested, a 3D crime scene scanner, body and surveillance cameras and other security equipment.

Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg said his department will use its $142,777 to "upgrade our in-car video cameras as well as assist us in securing new license plate readers. Both of the existing LPR's are over 10 years old and are not working properly."

Norwich Police Chief Reuben Roach said his department will use its $61,230 to purchase new license plate readers and other technology equipment. "We will be looking to upgrade our video camera systems at the police department, as well as downtown Norwich," he said. "We are grateful to Gov. Hochul and her administration for helping us to obtain these funds for the police department."

The Sidney Village Police Department will use its $130,588 to update its vehicles' laptops, purchase license plate readers, purchase a speed trailer — the device that lets motorists know how fast they're going in an effort to slow them down — update the patrol radios officers wear and update radar units in the cars, Police Chief Eric Oliver said. The department applied for the grant in November with the other departments, so quotes will have to be updated to see if the department can still obtain all that they want to purchase, he said.

Other local departments also received grants. They are: Bainbridge Village Police, $23,500; Chenango County Sheriffs Office, $18,500; Town of New Berlin Police Department $45,500; Colchester Town Police Department $73,622; Delhi Village Police Department $50,000; Walton Village Police Department $108,000; Cobleskill Police Department $62,280; Schoharie County Sheriffs Office $110,000 and Schoharie Village Police Department $30,631.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.